Plain Vanilla

The mind wanders over the plains of nostalgia and climbs the mountains of memory this morning. I am wondering what happened to some of the contemporaries of my childhood.

Tommy. Tommy was two years my junior and he had a brother, Chet, who was my age. Twilight games of Kick the Can or Hide and Seek often included these boys, as well as others. At eight years of age, Tommy was a thumb-sucker. Imagine if you can the merciless teasing and name-calling to which Tommy was subjected because of this habit he seemingly could not, or would not, give up. How did this small facet of his young life affect him in later life? I wonder.

Chet, as I remember him, had no outstanding traits or characteristics. He was a kid, tougher than I, confident in himself, jovial enough, but not particularly noteworthy. I have no idea whatever happened to these boys.

Wes was my best friend. I pretty well had him figured out and I have a clear notion of how his early childhood served to mold his character. We remained close friends until his dying day. But a block north of Wes there lived a “tough kid,” a blue-eyed towhead who was in fact a half-year younger than I, but he was a bully. Clifton was physically strong, had a mean streak as wide as the Missouri, and he made it a point to ensure that everyone knew he was tough. Reflecting back, I think perhaps I did not like Clifton (not “Cliff.” That could get you a bloody nose.) Now, seventy-six years later, I wonder what ever happened to Clifton.

I’ve not mentioned girls. Well, Daddy cautioned me about girls, just as though he imagined that I would be bold enough to approach any of them. “Girls,” he said, “are to be looked at, laughed at, and forgotten.” This did not exactly inspire me to confidence in my dealings with the fairer sex.

Then there was Clyde. Have to love the people in the ‘30s who named their kids Chester, and Clifton, and Clyde. Oh, where are you now, Chappies? And Carl, who once beaned me with a rock. Where are you now?

Marbles, Kick-the-Can, Red Rover, Hideand- Seek, One-o’ Cat, Hop Scotch, Skip Rope, Crack-the-Whip, Mother- May-I, Fisty-Cuffs-Inthe- Alley, a buncha more.

Barefoot and dirty, roaming all over town What are you doing? Just messin’ around.

Do kids have fun these days?